Currently in South America, we have a country in crisis. Venezuela, once a rich and stable democracy, has devolved into an economic travesty, dictatorship, and is on the edge of falling into a dangerous civil war. Many media pundits have ignored this country for a long time, and this is mainly because the state is run in a Socialist manner. This has led to what we have now: inflation may hit 1 million percent (source from here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/venezuelas-inflation-rate-may-hit-1000000-percent-yes-1-million/2018/07/24/90d59086-8f4a-11e8-ae59-01880eac5f1d_story.html?utm_term=.6e948d54bc04), violent protests have been breaking out (source found here: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-46970620), and the living conditions in the country itself are absolutely abysmal (Source found here: https://borgenproject.org/crisis-zone-10-facts-about-living-conditions-in-venezuela/, https://www.ohchr.org/en/newsevents/pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=22646&LangID=E). Some in the U.S. are suggesting we take a military interventionist attitude to it: We go in, support whoever the ‘rebels’ are, and help them overthrow their dictator. Some suggest a hands-off approach: We either leave it to the UN or other countries in the region as far as overthrow goes. Some are proposing a mix of both: We don’t aid in the overthrow, but we do come in after the potential war, and help in cleanup efforts. I personally stand in the middle of all three: First, we shouldn’t invade the country. As I discussed in one of my last articles “Failures of Woodrow Wilson: Mexico and Latin America” (found here: https://theuniversityconservative.com/2019/01/04/failures-of-woodrow-wilson-mexico-and-latin-america-by-peter-moon/), we tried once in history to intervene in a civil war. The nationals who were fighting to restore democracy and peace to their nation wanted no help from our nation. However, our nation’s leader, President Wilson, ignored their pleas, and instead decided to help them out. This led to an already-antagonized new government who wasn’t our best friend for a while afterward. Venezuela is slightly different. While the country’s citizens are almost all against their leader at this point, the people that are actually staying to fight need to be supported regardless of their political leanings. Mr. Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as the ‘interim president’ of Venezuela, needs to be militarily protected. If he dies, there aren’t many who will rise to take his place.
But, while I say that we need to support Guaido in his efforts to overthrow Maduro, I also warn of this: If and when he and his resistance do succeed, they need to be watched. What has happened so many times in history has been that a country falls into a dictatorship, and a rebellion arises to overthrow it. This rebellion succeeds, and a new government is formed. However, in some situations, this government again falls into a tyranny after it goes back to the dictatorship state due to many different circumstances. What we need to do is watch what these rebels plan to do after taking power. Do they plan to stop human rights abuses of all citizens? Do they plan to re-open diplomatic and trade channels to their neighbors and former partners? Do they plan to go back to the same economic system as before?
A New Economy
Styxhexenhammer recently pointed out in a video how the last time Venezuela fell into the state it is now in was because their economy was (1) built on one main resource (Oil), and (2) it was run in a socialistic-style. To avoid this, he suggested that the next rulers of Venezuela avoid going back to Socialism, and instead focus on something other than oil.
We should examine why the Venezuelans need to avoid Socialism. With Socialism, a country stops producing as much things as they did beforehand, and instead switch to dispersing the resources and “equalizing” everything. One problem with this is that “equalization” of resources does not end with “growth of resources”. When you couple this with the reality of the idea of scarcity, this spells doom for a country with limited industries. The reason Denmark and other European states have been stable in their time as “socialist states” has been because of two things: First, these states haven’t been fully “socialistic”-they’ve been a mix of a market and command economy. Second, they’ve had success in their nation because they have had more than one resource or mean of income to thrive off of. With China, they have production of food, mechanical goods, and other items. With Denmark and Sweden, they have tourism, production, and other income sources. Venezuelans have the ability to change their economic output; they have a beautiful region to work with. Tourism could work out for the nation when they stabilize their nation; once the fighting stops, they could start tourist locations and stops, which would add to their income for the nation overall. Venezuela doesn’t have to rely on oil; they have the means to start projects in other places. If they diversify their economy, they could avoid falling back into the failure their economy is now.
To sum all of this up, Venezuela needs to switch to either a mixed economy, or go full free market. This would allow citizens in the nation to earn an actual living wage, become happy, and actually live without threat of death. They should also diversify their economic opportunities. If they turn to something other than oil, then they will have that to fall back on if the oil becomes less valuable or dries up.
I do agree with the idea that the military needs to be involved in overthrowing Maduro. In 2017, over 100 citizens were killed in violent protests between those citizens and security forces (source here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/22/world/americas/juan-guaido-facts-history-bio.html). The government won’t deal with these protestors like our government did in the 1960’s Civil Rights protests. Those fire hoses won’t be spreading out water; they’ll be spraying out bullets. Those dogs won’t be biting people. They’ll be traded in for shotguns and knives to dispatch dissidents. These protests will hopefully start having more of a military-protection presence, and these protestors themselves will hopefully start fighting back. However, I want to stress that I don’t want this military presence to be U.S. only; we could go there and help, but we shouldn’t be the main force putting down Maduro. As Styx explained it: If the US is the main force marching in and deposing Maduro (and we could do it in a matter of hours), then that may leave an impression that we are trying to replace their Socialistic government with a US-friendly puppet. This same impression was left when we invaded Iraq, Mexico (in the 1910’s), and Panama. What we should do is allow either a US-involved (not led) coalition of the ‘right wing’ countries of Columbia, Brazil, and the US to either defend these protests, or depose the government. Or we could just allow those countries themselves to deal with the situation. Brazil in particular would probably be more than ready to depose Maduro; they share a direct border with the country. Again, after the firestorm of violence, we should come in and clean up the place. Our actions of “saving the country from more death” would be a welcome change from the “imperialist” tag they already probably think of us with now. This clean-up operation should be led by the UN, but with strong US help inside it.
CHOOSING A NEW GOVERNMENT
So how do we keep the nation relatively stable after the deposition and abolition of Maduro’s Socialist ‘regime’? I have a solution: In Russia after 1991, the USSR collapsed and the states separated into a bunch of smaller democratic/republic states. These states held democratic elections, where it was relatively fair and honest.
What we need to do with Venezuela is hold fair and free elections. Guaido would be able to run on the National Assembly ticket, and he would be able to do everything he would normally do, and anyone else who wanted to run (not including Maduro) would be able to run as well. Every legal citizen would be able to vote (above a certain age, preferably 18), and each vote would count for one citizen. Out-of-country ballot-counters would be required, though- I fear that some on both sides would want to cheat just to make sure they’d win. So, the vote would go through, and if Guaido was elected fairly, then that would be it. If the people of Venezuela chose the Socialist candidate for a third time in a row however, then that’d be their choice. If a country wants to go full left-wing and isn’t killing anyone, I’d say that we should let it happen. Let them fall; if we do, we could then run and pick up the pieces afterwards. It’d be a lot better than just bombing the nation once they start threatening others with war.
I’m updating this as of Friday, January 25th. As of 9 A.M. Eastern USA, Guaido has gone missing after Thursday, the day I started writing this. At this point, I think we need to support a UN-led intervention into the situation. Brazil might be able to help us out. Columbia may as well. But, if Guaido does not turn up alive in the coming days, I think we need to seriously consider a path of subtle intervention into the situation. Maduro needs to go, and a protestor with a sign will not be the cause of his downfall; only a man with a weapon can do that.
Follow Peter on Twitter @realPeterMoon.